While it doesn't look like the Chesapeake Bay will be hugely affected by Hurricane Florence, the NHC advises to always have a hurricane plan prepared, just in case. Now seemed like a good time to review review some BoatU.S. tips for preparing your boat for a hurricane.
Preparing Your Boat
Tips courtesy BoatU.S. and West Marine
1. Start Early. It's best to prepare or move your boat when a hurricane is a substantial possibility, even before a watch is issued. If you wait longer, routes needed to relocate your boat might be inaccessible or you may find your marina is too busy to haul your boat.
2. Strap Down Boats Ashore. While boats ashore tend to suffer less damage than boats left at docks, the extent of damage ashore can be significant if they are not secured properly. BoatU.S. recommends strapping boats down securely to some sort of secure anchor, such as eyes set in concrete or helical anchors drilled into the ground. With either type of anchor, straps with little or no stretch work best; ordinary nylon line stretches, which can buckle the leeward jackstands. If a storm surge is expected, make sure boats are stored on high ground, above the expected surge.
3. If your boat is at a floating dock, make sure it has tall pilings. Floating docks allow boats to rise and fall with the surge without stretching and stressing lines. But tall pilings are critical. The shorter the pilings, the less likely they'll be able to accommodate the surge; it's not uncommon for every dock — and all of the boats — at a marina to be lifted above the pilings and carried away.
4. Whenever possible, boats on lifts should be stored ashore or moved to a safer location in the water. Boats could be blown off lifts, scraped against pilings, overcome by a storm surge, or fill with rainwater and collapse their lift.
5. If you must moor your boat, moor wisely. Try to locate an area protected from waves, such as a "hurricane hole."
6. If anchoring out, set multiple anchors. BoatU.S. suggests setting two anchors in linear formation connected together by chain, or in multiple directions at 90 degrees to the direction of the wind. Three anchors can be set in an array of 120 degrees and led to a single swivel and line leading to the boat’s bow. Helix type anchors are most effective, and hold much better than mushroom or deadweight anchors.
7. Never stay aboard your boat in a hurricane. When a storm is approaching, you should do everything you can to protect your boat and then head inland. In hurricane-force winds and waves, there is little a skipper can do when aboard. Your boat can be replaced but you can't.
8. Do not rely on older dock lines that have been exposed to several seasons of UV deterioration, dirt, salt, and repeated stretching. If your boat will be moored to a fixed dock or piling, you will need to use long lines so your boat can float up as the water level rises.
9. Reduce windage by removing all canvas, including dodgers and biminis.
10. Keep up-to-date on weather reports from the National Hurricane Center.